It happens every year.
We all come into the season wanting to believe the best in our favorite teams. For those here reading Rock M Nation, that team just happens to be Mizzou. As fans of this program we know the pitfalls, and yet as each season rolls around your loftier goals and expectations can sometimes get the best of you.
We always fall for something. Maybe it’s the new offensive coordinator that’s going to change the scheme. Another year, it could be the new freshman running back that’s crushing it in fall camp. It’s also been the new coach that’s going to come in and fix the special teams.
We’ve all had those tropes we fell for.
Well, I fell for some this year. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Here are the tropes that, through one week, I’m prepared to admit that I fell for.
#1 - The safety position is going to be the best it’s been under Barry Odom.
I thought this was going to be the year the defense featured a secondary that was not to be trifled with. I still believe the corners are going to be solid. The safeties... I’m not so certain about anymore.
The first week didn’t give us a whole lot to be thrilled about. The angles were still an issue. The run support was less than ideal. I thought the position was solved. It appears to once again be an issue.
#2 - The pass rush is fixed.
I knew I shouldn’t fall for it. I looked at the names on the edge and the production coming from defensive end a year ago and knew I should be skeptical. But I fell for it. Because this is what we do. Then Missouri went into week one against Wyoming with two tackles-for-loss and zero sacks.
I don’t care where you play, that should never happen against a Mountain West opponent. I still believe Missouri has the depth at defensive tackle to get by. But the pass rush once again looks like an issue.
#3 - Kelly Bryant is going to be a difference-maker in the running game.
So, this one might be on me. I’ve been pumping all offseason that I believe Missouri has the potential to be one of the best running teams in the country. I still believe that to be the case, even after a disappointing performance on the ground the first week of the season. But I may have given a little too much credit to Bryant for what he’ll add on the ground.
Colleges don’t make it easy on us to figure out how effective quarterbacks truly are in the running game, because the NCAA technically counts sacks against a quarterback’s rushing yards. I know, it’s dumb. So, you should probably keep that in the back of your mind when I explain this.
Bryant has never truly been an effective runner, statistically, in college. He averages fewer than four yards per carry. He’s rushed the ball 268 times for fewer than 1,000 yards. On a per rush basis, Bryant is basically Maty Mauk when it comes to running the ball. That’s fine, but it’s not a guy who is truly a difference maker in that respect.
I expect the quarterback running game to get better as the season goes on. But through one week, it certainly has the appearance of an offseason trope.
Missouri can still fix some of these issues. It’s early. The safeties can recover after a rough first week of the season. The pass rush could come alive as Trajan Jeffcoat gets healthy and Jordan Elliott continues what I believe will be a breakout campaign. And maybe Bryant does end up being a difference-maker on the ground in a way we simply didn’t see in the first week of the season when he finished with 20 rushing yards on 11 carries.
I’m rooting for it. I’m hoping for it. But I’m not falling for the tropes this time around. Not until they prove it.
Here’s to hoping they do.